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37 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1843

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Literary Devices

Repetition

Repetition is the frequent use of certain words and phrases in literary works. This allows the author to subtly suggest certain interpretations, emphasize key ideas, or create a specific atmosphere.

The narrator often repeats certain words and uses the same sentence structure two or three times in a row, recreating the sensation of obsessive thoughts experienced by someone who is mentally imbalanced. For example, in the first paragraph, the narrator repeatedly uses “mad,” “nervous,” “heard.” These words foreshadow what happens in the rest of the story and highlight the ideas the narrator is focused on. Additionally, the narration repeats the same short syntax, as in the case of “not destroyed them” and “not dulled them.” These parallel structures create a sense of abruptness and obsessiveness.

Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is a device that brings together concepts that are habitually understood to be opposites, such as love and hate. The story creates frequent juxtapositions by combining the words “madness,” “wise,” and “healthy” (Paragraphs 1, 3). Use of juxtaposition is particularly apt in this story as it helps express the inherent incompatibility of the criminal’s actions and thoughts as well as the coexistence of contradictory impulses.

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